As I write this, we in the UK have been ‘social distancing’ under lockdown for about 2 months. Right at the start there were plenty of people using their once-a-day outside allowance to attempt to start running, good on them.
Obviously, being the keen ultra-distance machine that I am, I did not lose pace. I kept doing the high level cardio and long weekend runs and staying in tip-top shape. OK, so I didn’t. For the first month or so, I did pretty much nothing.
Regular listeners may have heard us say on one occasion or other ‘running is terrible’. Honestly, I’m not lying – there are times when it is really dreadfully dull and painful.
This is a question I’ve asked myself often – worrying if it’s simply ego trying to make out I’m better that others. But, honestly it is the sense of exploration, achievement with some camaraderie thrown in for good measure.
But you cannot do that without actually practicing some running.
First, decide what you are doing this for. Just exercise? Some form of meditative practice? From experience it helps massively to have a reason to get out there – and make sure it’s specific.
What do you need?
Well, there are plenty of articles out there around shoe choice, etc. But first off… just go out in some vaguely appropriate clothing and, you know, run. Head out, walk around a bit and start to bring up your pace into a jog and then a run but – and this is key – run only about HALF as far as you think you could and HALF as hard you think you can. If you really aren’t in…optimal…shape, let’s say, you’ll notice this immediately – 10 meters too much? Well done, walk it out a bit more and plan to go out again in a couple of day’s time.
Super excited and want more? Great, have a look at training and aspirational event videos on youtube – perhaps even listen to a few of our episodes where we talk about training and recovery. Don’t go crazy and run 2x a day, don’t just buy a whole load of running gear which you may not even use.
After you’ve got into the swing of things, say a couple of runs a week for a month or two, maybe you’ll notice more where you have some discomfort. Great news, now you get to go shopping!
Guide me, oh master!
Head to a running shop and use the knowledge you have gained from your own running practice to help pick out your shoes, with the help of the shoe guru in the shop (perhaps try a couple of places). Skip all the expensive socks and that – just go to Sports Direct/Decathlon/TK Maxx or whatever for anything that isn’t shoes. At this stage, your shoes should be far and away the most expensive kit, by maybe 5-10x the next expensive piece of kit you have. If you have a £8 pair of shorts, maybe you’re spending up-to £80 on some fancy shoes. (I wouldn’t, because I’m too tight).
Note – you may have heard I run in barefoot shoes, because I’m freaking amazing. Honestly, I prefer barefoot running but think it may not be the best place to start – but if you want to try it out, see if you can find a barefoot coach/mentor around you.
You’ll probably want to do this before you complete the shopping phase – but we all know you won’t because we are living in a material world and I am… certain you’ll want to indulge in some consumer therapy.
Anyway, yes find some friends who like to run, or groups online or at the pub… you don’t have to do anything as crass as actually run with them, but it helps you get a bit more immersed in the hobby and move you more towards your goal. Enthusiasm breeds progress, and podcasts.
As we move out of lockdown, there are going to be people who started out with good intentions – taking the once-a-day exercise rules who perhaps gave up once it became hard. There are going to be those who stayed in for most of the lockdown and are perhaps now lower in the fitness spectrum than they were going in. Finally, those who want to use the post-lockdown experience as a time to enjoy the freedom.
Whatever the case, find your adventure and work towards it. Sometimes that means you’ll have to run, so lets get going!